Zero waited in his study, looking over some papers. Axel was pacing around behind him
“Can’t believe she’s going already,” Axel muttered.
“Don’t worry about her,” Zero said. “I’m sending Bonnie along for added security.”
“I’m still worried,” Axel stated. “What are we supposed to do about that nutty league? They’re going to figure out who she is and when they do…”
“They won’t find out,” Zero interrupted. “I’m having the word spread hat her party is a peace envoy between Nervius and the Dark Elves. They’ll never suspect that Rachel isn’t the real princess.”
“Okay Mister Brainiac,” Axel said “how will we put a stop to the League before they find out they’ve been deceived?”
“We wait until they kill Rachel and you’ll tail them back to their little hideout,” Zero stated. “It’s quite simple.”
“Do we really have to sacrifice her?” Axel asked.
“She’s a third your age,” Zero said. “Don’t tell me you’re starting to develop feelings for her?”
“Of course not,” Axel said. “Don’t be gross. It’s just… seeing her and Axra talk… they seem like actual sisters.”
“This is no time to be emotional,” Zero said. “One small sacrifice will allow us to end these fanatics before they can pose a threat to Axra herself. Even if that sacrifice does cause her some pain, it’ll be for her own good. Now come, let’s see them off.”
“We seem to have an extra horse,” Twila noted.
“Th… that’s because we’re getting another companion,” Lilly said. “Th… Their Majesties wanted extra security given, you know, the delicacy of the mission.”
“I see,” Twila said. “Do you know anything about this companion?”
“Twila,” Axra said. “Let’s talk over there for a moment. You’ll meet her soon enough.”
“I suppose so,” Twila said. She walked off with Axra. “What did you need?”
“Here,” Axra held out a stack of three wrapped items. “These are for you.”
“Oh, thank you,” Twila said. “You didn’t have to give me anything.”
“I know,” Axra said. “But I wanted to.”
“These are…” Twila began. “Is it really okay to give me these? I don’t know if you could find another intact copy of any of them outside the Great Library.”
“It’s fine,” Axra said. “I have a ton of books and I know you liked those ones.”
“It’s a great gift,” Twila said. “Thank you so much.” She put the books in her bag of holding and hugged Axra.
Velvet’s dogs pulled him and his wagon up to the horses. Bonnie was walking alongside. She’d donned heavy armour and had a great sword sheathed across her back.
“I made it,” he muttered.
“Only because I made you come,” Bonnie added.
“No need to get into the small details,” Velvet said.
“Is everyone ready to move out?” Bonnie asked.
“N… not quite,” Lilly answered. “Ki… King Axel wanted to have a word with Lysara before we go.”
“I remember Lord Zero mentioning her,” Bonnie said. “What’s she like anyway?”
“We… well,” Lilly said. “She… she’s very excitable and, maybe, a little loud.”
“I’m ready!” Lysara cried, running over. “Sorry, Mister Axel wanted me to take a bunch of enchanted stuff to protect me.” She looked over at Bonnie. “Who’s this?”
“Th… this is my friend, Bonnie Calendula. Sh… she’s coming with us.”
“Calendula?” Lysara laughed. “I forget how weird elf surnames are. Well, Bon, pleased to meetcha.” Lysara stretched out her hand.
“Yeah,” Bonnie muttered. “Likewise.” She looked away from Lysara and put her hands behind her back.
“Well, guess I’ll grab my lyre,” Lysara said. “Might as well provide some traveling music.”
“Bonnie, I… I understand that she was a little rude,” Lilly said. “B… but there’s no need to be stand-offish.”
“I wasn’t,” Bonnie said. “It’s just… It’s hard to explain.”
“You must be our new companion,” Twila said. She and Axra approached the two. “My name is Twila Magia and you are?”
“Bonnie Calendula,” Bonnie stated, taking Twila’s hand. “At your service.”
Zero and Axel approached the group. “Miss Magia,” Zero said. “We appreciate you speaking with your aunt on our behalf and we humbly ask that you help safeguard our beloved daughter.”
“Of course,” Twila said. “We’re friends, after all.”
Zero nodded. “Axra, take care of yourself.”
“No problem,” Axra said.
Axel nodded. “Come back soon, okay?”
“I’ll be back before you know it,” Axra said. She hugged her fathers.
“Wait!” Rachel called, running up. “Don’t leave just yet.” She caught her breath. “Dear Sister, I made you a little something to keep you warm while your trudging through those ghastly underground caverns.” She held out a pink scarf with a detailed floral pattern.
“Thanks,” Axra said. “I’ll be sure to wear it when we go underground.”
“I only wish I could have done more,” Rachel said. “It’s too bad your visit was so short.”
“Don’t worry,” Axra said. “I’ll be back before you know it and we can hang out some more.”
“That will be lovely,” Rachel said. “You simply must tell me everything.”
Axra nodded. She gave Rachel a quick hug and the group leisurely took to the road, headed towards the Underground.
Axel and Zero glanced at each other.
“I’m going to take my own journey to Choltin and deal with their little problem,” Zero stated. “Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement.” Axel looked away from him, but nodded.
“See you soon, Father,” Rachel said.
“Farewell,” Zero said. With a wave, he was gone.